1-8 Players, horizontal game
Bastian Schick, for the Atari Lynx
This may qualify as a first in the history of video gaming. Bastian Schick, an ambitious gamer from Germany, decides to write and sell his own video game without benefit of any kind of corporate sponsorship. His effort is T-TRIS, a version of Tetris for the Atari Lynx. If you've been living in a cave for the last ten years, Tetris is a game where oddly-shaped blocks fall from the top of the screen as the player rotates and positions them. Solid rows of blocks vanish to make room for more, and the pieces fall faster as time progresses. The game ends when there's no more room in the pile.
There are thousands of copies of Tetris out already, ranging from new derivatives like COLUMNS and KIRBY'S AVALANCHE to clones on personal computers and programmable calculators. Given that, the demands on another Tetris wanna-be are very high; at the very least, a new contender should offer a few touches to make itself stand out in the overcrowded field.
T-TRIS, unfortunately, doesn't even make an effort. The only game option is the starting difficulty level. Even simple ideas like a starting pile, variable pieces, or a time challenge would be welcome, but they're all absent. Fans of Tetris undoubtedly already have a favorite version, while those who dislike the game will find nothing to change their minds. The controls are responsive if unspectacular; one button rotates, another drops, and the joypad positions the pieces. The Lynx's ability to "flip" the controls is disabled, which means left-handed gamers are out of luck.
Since T-TRIS is on the Lynx, that means it supports multiple players. Bastian writes that three-player games have been tested, and up to eight are possible. But that's still a very small concession; die-hard Tetris players already have more complex multiplayer games available, such as TETRIS GAIDEN from Japan. Any way you slice it, the only point in buying T-TRIS is if you really want to play Tetris on the Lynx.
Like the game itself, the graphics in T-TRIS are merely functional. Aside from individual colors, the blocks are unadorned, and much of the screen is used for needless displays of the high score and the elapsed time. The gaming area is a little small, and I would have advised a vertical orientation instead. The most complex graphics are shown on initial power-up, which features scrolling rainbow text and a rotating vector cube.
Sounds are even worse. Music is nonexistent, and the few sound effects consist mostly of digitized samples, blatantly stolen from STAR TREK and other sources. They don't fit the game well (if at all), and seem to be gratuitous more than anything else.
Bastian Schick deserves some attention for trying to publish a video game on his own. On the other hand, T-TRIS is a rather weak effort that lacks the complexity or polish of a professional effort. Though the multiplayer mode is a nice little touch, in the end this card is worth buying only if you are desperate for a Lynx version of Tetris.
GAMEPLAY: 5.5 GRAPHICS: 5 SOUND: 2 OVERALL: 4.5